Perhaps you know that the Smokies is a hugely popular travel destination. More than nine million visitors pass through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year alone, and that means it has a lot to offer. Yet, it also means there are areas more prone to crowds than others, and if you are eager to enjoy a laid-back and tranquil weekend getaway, you may want to explore the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies”.

Where is the Peaceful Side of the Smokies?

West of the wildly popular Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas are towns like Townsend and Maryville. Just as appealing, they are often seen as the Peaceful Side of the Smokies.

In fact, Townsend has that as the town’s slogan, and it fits nicely. This town, noted as a gateway to the incredibly historic, beautiful and famous Cades Cove area inside of the national park, is idyllic and laid-back. Full of local-owned eateries and shops, it is a unique alternative to the other options in the area.

Planning a Weekend Visit

So, what should you do to ensure you enjoy a good experience? Apart from planning to focus on the Townsend and Maryville side of things, we recommend the following:

  1. Take a look at the local Calendar of Events – This will show you the many wonderful activities available to you, such as food or beverage fests, local markets and more
  2. Consider a cabin – The area is full of appealing accommodations, but one of the most enjoyable ways to experience the Peaceful Side of the Smokies is from the peace, solitude and privacy of a home-like cabin full of comforts
  3. Eat local – While you may feel tempted to head to larger and more populated areas because they boast so many restaurants, don’t forget that one of the best ways to experience anywhere you visit is by living like a local. That means going to the little “hole in the wall” spots or the places with lots of cars in the parking lot. Ask around, most locals are happy to tell you where the best BBQ, breakfast, and other foods are found
  4. Visit the park – If you are in the Peaceful Side of the Smokies, you are at a main entrance to one of the most coveted area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – don’t miss your chance for an early morning drive, sunset viewing or even a day of hiking
  5. Toss the agenda – Driving some of the local back or country roads and doing a bit of simple exploration is one great way to make the most of your time in the Smokies
  6. Walk the towns – You will be surprised at the fun you can have right in the heart of towns like Maryville and Townsend
  7. Try local attractions – Townsend is home to sites like Little River Railroad and Lumber Co. Museum, while Maryville has historic buildings to enjoy.